Only True ‘Friends’ Fans Will Remember These 9 Classic Inside Jokes
It doesn’t matter that the NBC sitcom Friends premiered more than 25 years ago. The cult classic comedy following the lives of six best friends living in New York City remains one of the most well-known and best-loved television series ever made.
Because it was a comedy, Friends is mostly treasured for the hilarious moments between Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey, and Phoebe. These scenes have led to endless quoting by fans who consider the six characters part of their family. And only true followers remember some of the most enduring inside jokes from 10 season of the show.
“We were on a break!”
Even people who never watch Friends are probably familiar with the oft-repeated refrain Ross says to Rachel throughout the series. But it takes a real fan of the series to understand the meaning.
The line was first uttered during season 3, episode 15, “The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break.” It refers to the fact that Ross goes out and has a one night stand after he and Rachel decide to take a pause on their relationship. She reacts badly, believing he cheated, but Ross insists the betrayal never happened because they were technically “on a break.”
The pair reference the incident many times throughout the series, with Ross dramatically shouting, “We were on a break!” in defense of his alleged cheating.
Ross and Monica secretly flip people off
Since Ross and Monica are siblings, they have more history together than anyone else in their group. One hilarious gesture they both know is banging their fists together at someone in anger, which was meant to represent giving them the middle finger.
Everyone on Friends starts using the gesture once they learn what it means.
Unagi, or salmon skin roll?
In season 6, episode 17, Ross claims he’s reached a state of “unagi” or total self-awareness after studying martial arts while using two fingers to gesture toward his temple. Meanwhile, Rachel claims “unagi” is a type of sushi and mocks Ross by making the same gesture and saying, “Ahhh…salmon skin roll.”
It’s unclear what word Ross meant to say, but real-life martial arts experts agree that “unagi” is the Japanese word for freshwater eel, not enlightenment.
Phoebe is Regina Phalange and Chandler is Miss Chanandler Bong
The funniest nicknames on Friends are the ones that make no sense to outsiders. Phoebe likes to introduce herself as Regina Phalange or Princess Consuela Banana Hammock. Joey goes by Ken Adams. And then there’s the name that Chandler’s TV Guide is addressed to, Miss Chanandler Bong, which is highlighted as a trivia question during the infamous quiz contest episode.
These alter egos become important in the Friends finale when Phoebe gets Rachel off the Paris-bound plain by saying the “phalanges” are malfunctioning. Only Phoebe, right?
Ross is Rachel’s lobster
Ross and Rachel have an extremely complicated relationship during Friends but long before the drama, they made everyone’s hearts melt when Rachel finally realized how long Ross had been pining for her. After explaining how lobsters mate for life (an untrue statement), Phoebe repeats the phrase when Rachel kisses Ross dramatically in front of everyone during “The One with the Prom Video.”
“See? He’s her lobster,” Phoebe says. Unfortunately, Phoebe was incorrect that lobsters are monogamous creatures, which could explain how “We were on a break!” came into play one season later.
Joey has a moo point
Joey Tribbiani isn’t dumb, but he’s often loveably naïve. That’s especially true when he claims a “moo point” is an opinion a cow might hold, rendering it invalid.
“Yeah, it’s like a cow’s opinion, you know, it just doesn’t matter. It’s moo,” Joey tells Rachel. Of course, he’s really referring to a moot point. Series co-creator Marta Kauffman recalled Joey’s moo point moment as one of her favorite lines in Friends.
‘Pivot!’ that sofa
The most famous couch on Friends is the one the group sits on at Central Perk. However, a close second is the one Ross tries to maneuver up the stairs of his apartment building. The stairwell is too narrow to accommodate the piece of furniture, leading Ross to yell “Pivot!” multiple times at his exasperated helpers.
Ultimately, it becomes clear he should have just paid the delivery fee.
“How you doin?”
Joey’s classic pickup phrase is more than just a line — it’s an attitude. Critics accuse Joey of being misogynistic and not respecting women. However, the “How you doin?” isn’t meant to be derogatory, at least not according to him.
Other cast members repeat the phrase, including the time Joey tries to teach Rachel how to use it properly.
Phoebe sings “Smelly Cat”
The official Friends theme song is “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts. However, the unofficial theme song is “Smelly Cat” by Phoebe Buffay. The lyrics are silly yet catchy, highlighting Phoebe’s unique personality and sense of humor.
Phoebe performs the song several times over the 10 season run but perhaps the most rewarding was when Lisa Kudrow played it live alongside Taylor Swift during the singer’s 1989 World Tour in 2015.